Coerced into playing baseball by his father, Victor connects with the hit of his life and sails one over the fence. His beloved dog, Sparky, thinks it’s a game of fetch, races after the ball, is hit by an oncoming car, and dies. Terribly depressed and lonely, Victor is inspired by his science teacher to bring his dog back to life. Successful in his task, his home-sewn creature draws the attention of an evil classmate when he escapes, and Victor is forced to reveal his secret on how to raise the dead. All hell breaks loose when the town is suddenly overrun by reanimated pets, and it’s up to Victor and Sparky to save the day.
When Toy Story launched the digital animation genre in 1995, you just knew that every Hollywood studio would eventually set up its own department to cash in on the latest movie trend. Throw in vampires with the Twilight phenomenon and 3D with Avatar, and it was just a matter of time before all three concepts would be mixed together into one picture, hence we get this entertaining animated tale from Sony Pictures.
Threatened with eviction from his lifelong home, Carl Fredrickson cuts loose in an unexpected way and sets off on a journey to the South American wilderness he and his late wife had long yearned to visit. Along the way, he picks up a few unwelcome (at first) fellow travelers: Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer; Kevin, a rare bird and a key plot McGuffin; and Dug, a talking dog. Carl also runs into his boyhood idol, explorer Charles Muntz, who turns out to be less of a hero than he had long imagined.
Little Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are the only survivors of a barracuda attack that took his mom and not-yet-hatched siblings. On Nemo’s first day of school (fish in a school—who knew?), he swims out beyond safety and is scooped up by a scuba diver. The distraught Marlin sets out on a journey to find him. In his quest, he meets up with a memory-challenged fish, Dory; a trio of sharks in a fish-anonymous rehab group; a convoy of surfer-dude turtles; a great blue whale; and more.
Young Merida may be a princess in the misty highlands of Scotland, but she isn’t happy with her lot. She wants only to practice her horsemanship, archery, and all other manner of un-princess-like behavior. Her father is delighted, but her mother is beside herself and arranges for the neighboring clans to vie for Merida’s hand in marriage. Our heroine, however, isn’t all that thrilled by the idea—and even less by the suitors. Fleeing into the woods, Merida stumbles upon a witch and has her cast a spell to make her mother change. Her mother does change, but unfortunately not exactly as Merida intended.
It’s not exactly a secret that Sony Pictures produced a fabulously successful trilogy of Spider-man films from 2002 to 2007. All three were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire as the resident arachnid. Though the last of the three laid something of a critical egg, it was nevertheless a golden one at the box office. The Amazing Spider-Man is not a sequel but instead a complete reboot, origin story and all. Clearly, Sony was hoping to re-invigorate the franchise. Judging from its commercial success, I’d say it succeeded.
Alfred Hitchcock was a supremely gifted and innovative filmmaker and master of suspense…and a bit of a psycho in his own right, according to recent biographies on him. His films are the benchmark standard that nearly every suspense thriller since has taken its cues from. And in 1954, Hitchcock shot Dial M for Murder in the 3D format at a time when the novelty of 3D films was waning.
Escaped from the Central Park Zoo, four animal friends were “rescued” and sent back to the wild, a humanitarian effort that turned into a whirlwind global adventure. The quartet has been on the savanna since the end of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, but lion Alex (Ben Stiller) still misses the zoo and so with his zebra, hippo, and giraffe chums, he’s off to collect the penguin master- minds from the birds’ Monte Carlo excursion and figure out a way home.
How do you make a blockbuster film based on the all-too-familiar tale of the doomed luxury liner Titanic? Try giving it a context of modern-day exploration and discovery, weave in a resonant theme of class struggle and the folly of ambitious men, and put at its heart a romance that epitomizes the sweet stupidity of young love. And don’t forget to execute it all with an unprecedented technical genius.
When Marvel Comics’ gang of superheroes—Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—get together after the first four of them starred in their own movies, you know something big is up. And it’s no surprise that Loki, Thor’s adopted brother, who teamed up with an army of nasty aliens, is behind it.
The Pirate Captain (voiced by a wonderfully swaggering Hugh Grant) leads his merry men across the high seas, searching for gold, adventure…and ham? He’s never quite what we expect a career swashbuckler to be, and when the Captain sets his sights on the Pirate of the Year Award, we soon see that this criminal rogue is actually just a flawed softie with a chance at redemption. The underlying plot is surprisingly similar to the recent Despicable Me, but what sets The Pirates! Band of Misfits apart is a series of wacky twists involving a dateless, conniving scientist named Charles Darwin and a downright loopy Queen Victoria. The movie also overflows with subtle sight gags, little placards and such in the shadows just behind a character. My kids laughed hysterically along with me, and they didn’t even catch half the jokes, so this disc definitely merits a purchase for the sake of repeat viewings.
L ooking to impress the girl of his dreams by finding her a real-life Truffula tree, Ted Wiggins follows the advice of his grandmother and ventures outside the walls of Thneedville in search of the Once-ler. At first, the reclusive old man wants nothing to do with the teenage boy, but he eventually tells his story of how greed and ignorance led to the destruction of the Truffula forest and how he should have listened to the warnings of the mystical Lorax—the protector of the trees. Looking for a chance at redemption, the Once-ler put his faith in the teenager to correct the errors of his ways, although the ruthless Aloysius O’Hare will stop at nothing to deter the young lad from fulfilling his destiny to restore the trees and get the girl.
Zeus, king of the gods, enlists the help of his half-human son Perseus in defeating Perseus’ brother Ares, who has allied with Hades in an effort to release Kronos, the leader of the Titans and the father of Zeus and the other gods. But Perseus just wants to be left alone to live as a human with his son.
As Marvel’s comic characters go, Ghost Rider is hellishly hard to categorize. From what I can gather from the character’s two films, 2007’s Ghost Rider and this sequel (I’m not a fan of the comics), Johnny Blaze is a motorcycle stunt rider who sells his soul to the devil to save his father’s life. In exchange, he periodically turns into an ancient, fiery demon that searches out evil to suck out its soul. A bummer for sure, but everybody needs a hobby. His motorcycle has apparently sold its carburetor and tires to Beelzebub as well, since whenever Johnny goes all flames and stuff, he’s also treated to one hell of a ride. Talk about sitting on the hot seat.
An old adage (OK, I just made it up) says that if you’re going to make a movie in 3D, you’d better give the audience something interesting to look at. The Mysterious Island does just that, dazzling the eyes with nonstop wonders held together by a wholly adequate plot. Young Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is having trouble living the suburban life of a normal teen after the excitement of his journey to the center of the earth. And soon enough, a cryptic message from his missing grandfather sets him off on a new adventure halfway around the globe, this time chaperoned by his supercool stepdad (Dwayne Johnson).